Sunday, September 28, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #281] Back in Shadwell

Hey all,

We made it back to London safely and without too much pain; Israeli security is as crazy as everyone says, but we eventually made it through, though I learned there's no reason to bother packing neatly since they ravage everything.

Tel Aviv was definitely my favourite part of the trip. It's a less interesting and dramatic city tourist-wise, but it's a very fun, vibrant city, which catapulted it to gold for me. I would go back in a heartbeat.

OK, time for bed here - a work week starts again! <sigh>

Cheers,
Shaun


1) DSC00003 - Downtown Tel Aviv from our room


2) DSC00006 - The Mediterranean from our room



3) DSC00007 - The Shabbat elevator; can my Jewish friends explain this to me? If one should avoid modern technology on Shabbat, how can one elevator be OK but another not?

Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #280] Shabbat lo sababa

Observant Jews follow the dictates of Shabbat from sundown Friday till sundown Saturday; during this time, they don't use modern technologies, and much of Tel Aviv follows this.  This is not a good for late-night revelers wanting post-party pre-sleep hangover diminishing food, or recovery hangover-satisfying greasy food the following day.  I had sushi - that's just wrong with a hang over!
 
Tel Aviv is fantastic.  This city doesn't do moderation - it's definitely my spiritual home in the Holy Land. 
 
Cheers,
Shaun

--

Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #279] Half a country on a tank of gas

Phew, wow - Mary and I have done quite the circuit of Northern Israel: the mount from the Sermon on the Mount, a settlement, Nazareth, Tiberias, Haifa, Netanya and now we've arrived in Tel Aviv. Just a short message to send a few pics and let my parents know I haven't been killed or abducted for ransom - there's a city out there that needs exploring and a Mary Keany that deserves some quiet alone time.

Cheers,
Shaun

1) DSC00059 - The Six Commandments of the Sermon of the Mount; notice the bottom left one - apparently, Jesus did not approve of martinis (I guess this is why he turned water into wine instead of one straight up with a twist, eh?)

2) DSC00036 - A settlement in Northern Israel - you too can live the Zionist dream!

3) DSC00041 - Nazareth. If Jesus's professional output has carried through into modern times, I can see why he decided to give up carpentry and give being the son of God a chance instead

4) DSC00044 - Tiberias - view from our hotel of the Sea of Galilee across to the Golan Heights - looks nice, right?

5) DSC00053 - It's not - it's the kind of city that has an old ruin and builds a shopping mall around it. Tiberias seems to be where Israel's B&T/Essex crowd go on holiday

6) DSC00073 - Haifa - much nicer! Temple of the Baha'i here; after Jerusalem I was considering taking up Judaism, but I think Baha'i's the way to go now

7) DSC00076 - See, it's just a very pleasant city when Hezbollah aren't dropping missiles on it

8) DSC00080 - Netanya - we had lunch there - it was enough

9) DSC00084 - Entering Tel Aviv, Israel's New York. Full evaluation in three hangovers' time. Initial thoughts? Mary was right - me likie!


--

Shaun Coley
Tel Aviv
Isreal

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism


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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #278] Armed Civilians

Pursuant to my last eMail, a friend commented about "armed civilians".  Everywhere (as in everywhere - from the streets to the hotel pool and lobby, restaurants, holy sites - everywhere) we see either obvious military personnel with big guns or seemingly regular folk - with big guns.  And I suppose this is why - you never know when a car's gonna come smashing through a crowd and someone's gonna have to kill the driver.
 
Armed civilians - you're right, Ajay - Israelis do live like Americans.
 
OK, off for the last viewings in Jerusalem and then we're off through the Jordan Valley to the Sea of Galilee to see if anyone feels like walking on water today!
 
Cheers,
Shaun

--

Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Monday, September 22, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #277] 15 hurt in vehicle terror attack in Jerusalem

This afternoon, Mary and I randomly walked by a rainbow flag on a building while we were walking about, so I decided to check it out, and it turned out to be Jerusalem's GLBT organisation.  The only gay bar in Jerusalem closed down last year, but talking to the people inside we learned that there was still a weekly night, Mondays, that was still gay.  So we had a nice dinner here in East Jerusalem and then got into a taxi and asked to go to Jaffa Road, where the bar is, and we were told:
 
"It's closed, someone just drove a car into people there.  It was just on the radio." 
 
"On purpose?" we ask. 
 
"Yes, on purpose."
 
He tried to drive us there, as we weren't sure how bad it really was, but the roads to it were all blocked.  We're back at the hotel, which is very near, and we can hear sirens zooming by right now.  I guess all's not quiet on the Western front just yet.
 
Cheers,
Shaun
 
 
w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
________________________________
Last update - 23:25 22/09/2008
 
15 hurt in vehicle terror attack in Jerusalem
By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent and The Associated Press
 
Israel's rescue services on Monday evening said 15 people had been hurt in an attack at a busy Jerusalem intersection.
 
One of the victims sustained serious injuries, while the rest were lightly to moderately hurt.
 
The rescue service said a driver drove his car into a group of people at the intersection. The driver was shot and killed.
 
Channel 10 News reported that the perpetrator was driving a black BMW.
 
Police said armed civilians killed the driver. He was not immediately identified, but the wording of the police statement indicated it was believed he was a Palestinian.
 
The intersection is situated near Jerusalem's Old City.
 
--
Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

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[The Life of Shaun #276] The Holy Land

Mary and I did our traversing through the Holy Land yesterday, touring through Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Jerusalem is definitely a special place, though the legions of tourists do their best to detract from that fact. Nevertheless, it's hard not to feel a little awed when you are walking on streets that are 6,000 years old and are the heart of holiness to billions of disparately-minded people.

Christians are definitely more capitalistic than the Muslims or Jews; non-Muslims are not allowed near their holiest sites, and the Jews are content to pray at foundation stones, preferring the coming of Judgement Day to the stone façades of the present. Christians, however, are invited and encouraged to walk, trample, touch and fondle everywhere that Christ may have concievably been: where he was born, where he was laid in a manger, where he preached, where he walked, where he cried, where he carried the cross, where he died, where he was bathed, where he was buried, where he ascended to heaven, where he had his first wank - there is no moment in Christ's life unworthly of a digital photo and a souveneir.

Bethlehem was fascinating - not for the Church of the Nativity (which is actually three churches - who knew?), but for the glimpse of life behind the security wall. The residents of Bethlehem, technically in Palestinian-controlled "Palestine", effectively live in a cage*. Israelis live like Americans, Palestinians like Tiajuanans. I did my bit to support their economy by buying a key chain (hey, a people that, as a rule, do not sell alcohol can't expect more economic support from me than that, I am sorry), but for the most part, tourists pop in and pop out again without really understanding the 'facts on the ground'. Hangover willing, I am taking a tour of the central West Bank on Friday to get a better grasp.

Attached are a few pics from the day.

Shalom / שָׁלוֹם / حالة حبّ وسلام,
Shaun



1) DSC00003 - Overlooking Holy City from the Mount of Olives

2) 000_0985 - Next to some of Jerusalem's holiest sights

3) DSC00013 - At the Wailing Wall; you write down a request for a blessing or help from God and put it in between the bricks of the wall. I asked the Jewish God for my foreskin back - he was not amused.

4) DSC00024 - Entering Palestine

5) DSC00025 - The entrance to Bethlehem

6) DSC00045 - Graffiti on the wall

7) DSC00049 - Exiting back to Israel



*Political aside here - skip at will:

I am sympathetic to the Palestinians - at least the ones who aren't blowing up Jews. I am also, however, sympathetic to the Jews who are getting blown up by Palestinians, so I cannot begrudge them security measures, even if used overzealously as a guise for further colonisation. It's a maddeningly intractable situation full of mutual wrongs, so in discussions with Mary Keany over drinks last night, we agreed on the following solution for peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict:

1) The Old City will become a world city, under the jurisdiction of neither, but the UN, guaranteeing free access to all regardless of religion
2) Israel will pull back to the green line at a measured pace; for each year free from attacks, Israel will return 5% of the land it has occupied. This will put the onus on the Palestinians to break the cycle of violence and the Israelis to stop the cycle of land-grabs. It will also give Israel two decades to plan for and extract its recalcitrant settlers from the West Bank and the Palestinians to build up a government that can govern the reverted territory.

Neither side will be fully happy with this, but all good compromises leave everyone equally pleased and displeased.

Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezey, right? Mary and I should rule the world.

--

Shaun Coley
East Jerusalem
Palestine

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism


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Saturday, September 20, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #275] I'm #1!

We've made it safely to Jerusalem via a nice restful first day and a half at the Dead Sea and a drive through the West Bank.

Going to the Dead Sea for day one was good planning as, as unique as the Dead Sea is, there's really not a whole lot to see or do other than verify that, yup, you can float on the water in the Dead Sea. But I don't mean that to sound belittling, as it is quite a nifty feeling. It's not just that you can float, but that you pretty much have to fight to not float - your legs just raise up to the top of the water if you don't work to keep them below you.

In a typical moment of grace, my legs floated up, flipping me over, an act from which I learned the very painful lesson that one does not want to get the salty water of the Dead Sea in one's throat, mouth and eyes. In my pain, however, I did have a small tinge of pleasure from the realisation that, barring any simultaneous manned deep-sea explorations, since the other swimmers were smart and graceful enough to keep theirs above water, at that very moment, my head was at a lower elevation than anyone else's on Earth. Not a great accomplishment, no, but there aren't many superlatives one collects in their lifetime where they can be reasonably certain they are first in a list of 6.5 billion people.

The drive through the West Bank was surprisingly normal, other than two Israeli checkpoints; at least until we were approaching Jerusalem, and then, next to the four-lane highway we were driving 70 on, we saw Palestinians riding on donkeys and living in tin and wood shacks. We've just been in Jerusalem about six hours, but it's ancient, gritty, alive and engaging. We're plonking down for a guided tour of the Old City and Bethlehem tomorrow, then satisfying personal wanderlust the next day. We seem to be staying in a Palestinian section of the city as it's mostly Muslim around us and we're 50 feet from a prayer tower - should make sunrise fun! At dinner, the hummus? Was amazing.

OK, bedtime in the Holy Land!

Shalom,
Shaun

1) 100_0832 - Me looking Eurotrash at the Dead Sea; Jordan behind that

2) 100_0835 - Me with our hotel and the Vegasesque landscape

3) 100B0950 - Mary Keany afloat in the Dead Sea

4) DSC00032 - Entering Jerusalem


--

Shaun Coley
East Jerusalem
Palestine



http://www.friendster.com/shaunism


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Thursday, September 18, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #274] Off I go!

Alrighty, just gonna finish up packing, then head to MK's for the car and off to Israel via T5 - how risqué!

John Mack gave a great talk today about the situation at MS; if people would take a deep breath and think about the actual state of the firm for a moment, we'd be fine.  We'll see if they can manage that.

But all eyes on enjoyment the next tendays - I can't control what I come back to, so I'll just enjoy myself the best I can - and resist constantly checking the news as best I can.

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #273]

So... this is no fun at all.  I don't know what the headlines are saying where you are, but here the airwaves are full of gloom about Morgan Stanley being at risk of being the next bank to go* - despite our great earnings report yesterday and $175b in cash.  I could very well be unemployed before I come back from Israel - or before I go to Israel.

What a frighteningly fascinating time; the US government is even running out of the cash it'd need to do another rescue if it wanted to - it's having to go to the bond market for more cash, and S&P had hinted at the possibility of the government losing its AAA rating, saying even it is not "God given".  You just don't get more insane than that without the entire Midwest drying up and floating away in the wind.

Well, I guess I better just sucker up and have a good time in Israel - who knows what I will come back to.  And if everything does blow up, I need to know, which one of you is going to take me in?

God I need a drink.

Very, very scared,
Shaun

*For those in tune locally, MS is a major stakeholder in HBOS, BTW.


Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Monday, September 15, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #272] Hodge Podge

A few random pre-holiday things:

First, the good news - I've accepted a new position at Morgan Stanley!  Hopefully, by the middle of next month, I will have left the shackles of finance and escaped into the warm glowing warming glow of the margin team in prime brokerage.  Of course, I musn't get ahead of myself as this little, um, uncomfortableness with Lehman Brothers does have the potential to derail any headcount moves, so I ask all of you to cross your toes and send me good, job-progression positive vibes.  The one downside of the new role, though, is that it is market-oriented, which means market hours: starting at 08:00.  But it will be much more interesting work, so I am excited about it.

B, I was having a conversation about the election with a few people lately, and it turned to the religious nature of America's politics.  My friend, Matt Putnam, made a brilliant comment that sums it all up perfectly, I think:  "[American Christians] see Palin praying that the war in Iraq 'follows God's plan' as a perfectly reasonable approach to national leadership."  Spot on, no?

Three, does anyone remember from "Supersize Me" how many steps the average American takes in a day?  I am participating in a charity thing for work and they are measuring how much I walk.  I remember the movie saying the average was only 2,000 steps a day - but that seems impossible; I've walked 7,728 so far today, and I've just been rather lazy, I'd say, pretty much just sitting at work and at home.  Can people really walk that little?  Have my years in NYC and London deaccustomed me to genuine sloth?

IV - just three days till I leave for Israel!  Mary and I finalised our itinerary and booked all our hotels yesterday.  We're doing one day on the Dead Sea, three in Jerusalem (with a possible side trip to Bethlehem), one on the Sea of Galilee, one in Haifa and four in Tel Aviv.  As I've mentioned before, I am not thrilled about spending my tourist shekels supporting Israel's policies right now, but if that were my guide I wouldn't be coming to America this Xmas either.  So, I'll suck it up, be fascinated with the land, the people and the history, and I'll see what I can do about bringing peace to the Middle East between cocktails and hummus.

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Friday, September 12, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #271] New York

"There is no question that there is an unseen world.  The problem is, how far is it from Midtown and how late is it open?"  -- Woody Allen

My friend Alexi sent me this quote earlier today and, wow, all I could think was "I miss New York".  And I do.  I desperately miss my friends there, the energy, the edge, that understanding only New Yorkers have, and I miss that little island that, so far, is the only place that has really felt like home.

But then there's Sarah Palin.  And everything she embodies.  McCain?  OK, bad enough, but he's kind of like a rock you have to walk around to get to something better.  Him alone, bad, but not Bushy.  But Palin?  Actively, violently, offensively, gaggingly evil.  I hate her like I hate Bush.  I hate her... so... much, It--it..the f--, it--flame...flames...flames on the side of my face, breathing, breath... heaving, breaths... heaving... 

And they are going to win.  They?  Are.  Going.  To.  Win.  And there are people who are happy about that.

Alright, alright, maybe Barack will pull some miracle out of his ass and they won't.  But even if that happens - the fact McCain/Palin could win?  F*(k.  Really?  Suddenly this continent with 700 million like-minded souls feels awfully comfortable.

OK, sorry to be so macabre.  It's just, you know, up until so recently this year, it was easy to be wildly optimistic and hopeful about my country again.  Like the sexy blow job Clinton years - remember them?  2000 and 2004 should of (sic) taught me better, but I was suckered, I fell for it.  At least it's had one good consequence - I've increased my contribution to Barack.  Again.  I hope you do too.

Cheers from a hopeful Europe,
Shaun

Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #270] Living room 4

Oops!  I forgot this one!

Cheers,
Shaun

Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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[The Life of Shaun #269] Kelday Heights

I went out to dinner in Fitzrovia with a bountiful MBA friend of mine last night and, despite the rainy night, when I got home the air was clear, the Gherkin and Eye were lit and shining gloriously into my windows and I fell in love with my flat all over again. Which reminded me, several of you have asked for pics post-furniture, so I took some today (despite the Summer grey the British Isles are unable to escape this year). So, attached, my little bit of London.

Cheers,
Shaun


1) DSC00005 - The living room - with a sofa! Only took four months, that.



2) DSC00006 - Living room 2 - that scragly plant is MK's - I don't know why she entrusted it to me while she was in NYC


3) DSC00007 - Living room 3


4) DSC00009 - That room Court seems to like to spend a lot of time in


5) DSC00010 - The wine corner has grown!


6) DSC00011 - Hall from the living room


7) DSC00013 - Hall towards the living room


8) DSC00014 - Where I wash my sins away


9) DSC00015 - My room 1


10) DSC00016 - My room 2


11) DSC00017 - Second room 1


12) DSC00018 - Second room 2


Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism


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[The Life of Shaun #268] Milk

OK, this isn't quite a Life of Shaun, but how awesome does this look?

http://www.apple.com/trailers/focus_features/milk/large.html

I can't wait!  It makes me proud of my ex-home - but something tells me it will have a fleeting existence in a McCain-Palin America.

Increasing his funding to Obama,
Shaun

Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism

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Monday, September 01, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #267] Paris - c'était belle, encore

Paris was great; Russ and I had a really good time there. Nothing too extreme, but a nice time all around, which is what Paris is good for.

The two best moments were when I met a couple out and spoke in French for a good long while. We didn't exactly discuss the finer details of the de Gaul presidency or anything, but it did get beyond "Je m'appel Shaun. J'habite à Londres." Since it's been 15 years since I studied French for under half a year, I was quite pleased with that.

The other great moment was randomly running into someone I know from New York at Open Café. He was in town from a cruise for five hours and Russ and I just happened to go back to get our umbrellas when he was sitting outside the café. A perfect cap to the weekend.

Attached are a few of my fave pics from the weekend. You can check them all out at http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=71965&l=60dd5&id=713081334 if you'd like to see them.

Back to the real world - for two weeks, then Israel calls - I am super excited!

Cheers,
Shaun


1) DSC00004 - our beds were obviously designed for French bodies!


2) DSC00008 - French biker


3) DSC00009 - Our hotel with the Pompidou Centre behind


4) DSC00010 - The height of French technology


5) DSC00011 - A new favourite cocktail


6) DSC00015 - L'As du Falafel - heaven!


7) DSC00017 - Russ's and my garbage from the weekend

Shaun Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism


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